Preserving America's Family Farm Act passes with bipartisan support
A few months after the Department of Labor (DOL) announced it was backing off from regulations to prevent minors from working on family farms, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to keep the proposal from resurfacing.
The Obama administration’s DOL, April 26, 2012, withdrew its proposed rule regarding youth in agriculture, but the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), along with an overwhelming majority of congressional leaders, didn’t believe pulling back the proposed rule was enough to provide certainty to America’s farm and ranch families.
Consequently, Congressman Tom Latham, R-IA, introduced the Preserving America’s Family Farm Act (H.R. 4157), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week by a voice vote and now heads to the Senate.
NCBA President J.D. Alexander commended passage of the legislation. He said the administration’s proposed rule could have restricted, and in some instances totally prevented, America’s youth from working on family farms and ranches.
“This is a victory for farm and ranch families throughout the country. This ridiculous rule would have prevented the next generation of farmers and ranchers from acquiring skills and passion for this very noble profession. It also would have restricted urban kids from working on farms and acquiring a solid work ethic and enthusiasm for this very diverse industry,” said Alexander. “We absolutely have to have a sensible regulatory environment in Washington, D.C. We should not have to worry about negligent rules being promulgated by out-oftouch regulatory agencies. It is unfortunate that we need legislation to prevent these nonsensical regulations, but with this administration’s track record, it is necessary to trust but verify.”
H.R. 4157 prohibits the secretary of Labor from finalizing or enforcing its previously proposed rule, which would have prevented youth from engaging in day-to-day farm and ranch activities. Alexander said the administration’s action to withdraw the rule showcases the importance of farm and ranch families being engaged in decisions being made inside the Beltway. He said this legislation goes a step further and ensures this rule does not resurface in the future.
The legislation was also introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. John Thune, R-SD, and Jerry Moran, R- KS. The legislation (S. 2221) currently has 44 cosponsors. Alexander said he encourages the Senate to bring S. 2221 to the floor and pass it sooner rather than later.
“We appreciate the administration listening to U.S. agriculture and pulling this rule. However, it is essential that farm and ranch families are afforded a level of certainty that this rule will not come up again in some form or fashion,” said Alexander. “We need this legislation.” —
Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor